Video On Demand: Is it The Way of the Future?

14 May

By Open Book

Today Video on Demand or VOD has breathed new life into independent filmmaking. As big studios began closing their Art House Divisions in favor of producing Tent Pole attractions moviegoers discovered the world of VOD or streaming video technology. Not to say the Big Blockbuster are a thing of the past (The Avengers confirms Blockbusters are here to stay). However, last year in an article Blockbuster vs. Indie Films Part 1&2 highlighted the problems facing the independent film industry. In this article we will revisit the current film market and what VOD offers moviegoers and independent filmmakers.

It’s hard to believe a moviegoer would pay to see a film first on VOD, then pay to see it again in theaters? But then again, why would consumers pay to watch a film in theaters then watch it again on DVD?  Perhaps, the order of events is not as important as the repetition of an experience, especially if that experience awakens your mind and spirit. In January 2011 an article from The Wall Street Journal, titled For Indie Films, Video on Demand Fills In Revenue Gap by Ethan Smith he states,

  • “The new Natalie Portman drama, “The Other Woman,” premiered on IFC’s video-on-demand platform at the beginning of this year, but won’t hit theaters until February. Jonathan Sehring, president of IFC Entertainment and Sundance Selects, says the movie is “already on track to be our single most successful release on VOD ever.[1]

VOD is still very new but the success of Netflix, YouTube and Google Play suggest consumers want more than what’s playing at the multiplex.  In January 2012 writer Jonathan Poritsky of The Candler Blog he states,

  • “I just think audiences are getting tired of what is at the multiplex,” says Poritsky. “They’re tired of paying so much to see a lot of the same movies.”
  • “Which is leading adventurous audiences out to new venues. There’s been a resurgence of the art house in the past decade, with a new model emerging: that of the non-profit movie theater.[2]

Its common practice for studios to produce similar content to “guarantee” profit given commercial films need to appeal to mass audiences?  In other words, big studios have become synonymous with Wal-Mart churning out sequels, franchises and reboots with little concern for innovation or originality. Today VOD offers moviegoers access to innovated filmmaking and perhaps the ability to dictate the next commercial trend in cinema? Weinstein Co. behind the Oscar winning film, The Artist and countless other indie films nominated for an Oscar last year seems to also believe VOD is the way of the future. According to The Wall Street Journal,

  •  “Weinstein Co. bought a 25% stake in Starz Media from Liberty Media Corp. for an undisclosed price. Owning a piece of Starz Media, which licenses and distributes films and TV shows for video-on-demand and online distribution, gives the studio flexibility to deal with the shifting media landscape, says Weinstein Co. Chief Operating Officer David Glasser.”[3]

After studios pressured theaters to switch from 35mm to digital technology its less expensive to distribute indie films. This change along with streaming video offers independent filmmakers hope for the future. However, for them to compete with blockbuster films it requires savvier marketing campaigns.  The truth is advertising is essential to a film’s success or failure.  The small budget film that makes triple its production and marketing budget is what VOD can offer. Yet, if a film doesn’t have long-term appeal and substance, none of it matters. What does VOD offer consumers? Greater diversity and opportunity to discover cult films, make them classic and influence commercial films.  Its well known a  $6.99 VOD release can acquire a healthy profit in just a few weeks with little print and advertising dollars spent. [4]  Yes, many mourned the closing of Independent theater houses. However is it possible have they just evolved?

Please join our discussion Tuesday May 15th, 2012@7pmE/12UTC





78 Responses to “Video On Demand: Is it The Way of the Future?”

  1. littlebells May 14, 2012 at 6:16 PM #

    I have not used VOD as of yet. I’m sure I will at some point. I still like to go to the theater…

    Love the new page design!!!! Great job OB! 🙂

    • Open Book May 15, 2012 at 7:14 PM #


      How familiar are u with VOD? Do u use the technology often? Do u prefer it to seeing a film in theaters?

      • littlebells May 15, 2012 at 7:58 PM #

        I may use it more. Does it cost to use?

        • Open Book May 15, 2012 at 8:05 PM #

          Yes! It cost just like Pay-Per-View service.

          It cost on average 6.99 per film on VOD. U can watch it multiple times in a 24 or 48 hour window.

          Heres more info on pricing etc.

          • littlebells May 15, 2012 at 8:12 PM #

            Hmmm….so if i think the movie sucks after 15 min. I’m still stuck paying for it? Yes I do realize that’s a cheap price considering u could pack ur house full of people and u only have to pay $6.99. Chances r I will probably only use it if I DESPERATELY want to see it.

            • littlebells May 15, 2012 at 8:14 PM #

              What I do like about buying a dvd is its a one time cost and I can watch it 24/7.

              • Open Book May 15, 2012 at 8:19 PM #

                ITA! LB. What do u do if a film sucks after 15? Well for someone like me who hates the cold weather. I would be more pissed if I battled a blizzard to see it in theaters and it sucked. LOL!! This way I can cut ties without burning up gas, getting into a accident from the blizzard etc….

                Personally? What I like about DVD’s? Are the bonus features.

                • littlebells May 15, 2012 at 8:24 PM #

                  Bonus features = winning every time!

                  I usually ask for my money back at the theater or suffer through it hoping beyond hope that somehow the film WILL get better. If its from redbox…I lose two bucks. No biggie. If it is on netflix: stop, search, play another. Hahaha!!! 🙂

      • ozzie20 May 15, 2012 at 8:00 PM #

        I’ve heard of the technology but not really understood it till now. I think its great for those who can’t get to the cinema often. Of course seeing it on the big screen is always going to be the better viewing experiance but it keeps those who can’t get to one up to date with the current releases. I would like it but the technology would probably take quite some time to come over here and would also most likely be just as expensive, if not more, than going to the cinema, lol!

        • Open Book May 15, 2012 at 8:28 PM #

          Hahaha!! Yes! Netflix…..Welcome to the world of unlimited options. Hmmm!

          • Open Book May 15, 2012 at 8:29 PM #

            Sorry Ozzie!

            This was meant for LB!!

          • Open Book May 15, 2012 at 8:33 PM #


            I imagine the technology will be available in the UK as well. One of the big appeals of this technology for studios is its ability to reach more people. It cost little to distribute etc..

            BTW: I don’t work for VOD!!! LOL!!

            • ozzie20 May 15, 2012 at 8:42 PM #

              Lol, no problem! I’ve had a quick look around and i’ve mostly confused my self even more. From what I can see there is one company who may show some indie films on demand. Otherwise, you have to wait for the dvd to be released for the film to be shown on demand.

  2. Comic Relief May 15, 2012 at 3:15 PM #


    What I really like about your article is the way you present how a tough reality may be resolved with new yet untested media. Ultimately the challenges presented to film enthusiasts by theatres may prove to be a welcomed opportunity to bind film producers and their audiences. Great article.

    • Open Book May 15, 2012 at 7:22 PM #

      Thanks CR!

      ITA with your assesment about audiences and producers using this technology to perhaps to start a new dialog.

      Something I mentioned in my article is how digital technology has really made it less expensive for films to be distributed. Its far less of a gamble for studios to distribute a indie film then it was before.

  3. Comic Relief May 15, 2012 at 3:17 PM #

    I like the new page design also.

  4. Open Book May 15, 2012 at 7:09 PM #

    Hi CR! I’m gald u like the design. Let me get caught up!!

  5. Open Book May 15, 2012 at 7:11 PM #

    Welcome new and returning visitors to our discussion tonight. Please feel free to join in and ask questions or comment.

    • Open Book May 15, 2012 at 7:29 PM #

      I really think theaters are here to stay. Personally I love theaters. However, I believe people are watching films for the feeling and experiences it gives them. To be moved by a story, or visuals etc.. often times seeing it from different perspectives helps u gain more understanding. Does that make sense?

      • littlebells May 15, 2012 at 8:01 PM #

        I agree. There is something about going to the theater that makes me feel I have left the outside world. Yes I like watching movies at home, but getting out, dressing up (sometimes) and seeing a film larger than life is pretty gratifying.

        • ozzie20 May 15, 2012 at 8:09 PM #

          I agree!

  6. Comic Relief May 15, 2012 at 7:18 PM #

    Hi everyone.

  7. Comic Relief May 15, 2012 at 7:20 PM #


    ..when you are ready.

    I love movie theatres and the movie going experience. Yet I’m wondering should we gamble with loosing this community experience by privatizing the experience more than we are used to.

    • Open Book May 15, 2012 at 7:35 PM #


      I answered up above. I’m getting use to the new layout design so please bare with me. LOL!!

      • Comic Relief May 15, 2012 at 7:47 PM #

        I figured that was the reply, I’m getting used to this also

        • Open Book May 15, 2012 at 7:57 PM #

          LOL!! No problem.

  8. Comic Relief May 15, 2012 at 7:22 PM #

    Sorry one more…

    Do you think these issues are ones that are best defined by the audiences lose of the film (developer’s or producer’s) gain?

    • Open Book May 15, 2012 at 7:51 PM #

      I honestly think audiences and producers gain from it. One it allows audiences to be more daring in what they watch. It allows producers to take more risk in what they produce. Its a win win.

      • littlebells May 15, 2012 at 8:04 PM #

        Do u think it also allows more viewers to see quality films that might receive an NC 17 rating? As one who enjoys indies and foreign films, I think this is an excellent way to view them. Especially if they never make world wide release.

        • Open Book May 15, 2012 at 8:08 PM #

          Most definitely LB!! Well said.

  9. ozzie20 May 15, 2012 at 7:26 PM #

    Hello all! I love the new layout! 🙂

    I’m in another slow typing mode today, so it will take me some time to reply (I’m also trying to catch up with last weeks too).

    I haven’t read the article but I already know I’m going to love it, OB! I keep hearing news about this and it intregues me but I’ve never sat down to read about it till now! 🙂

    • Open Book May 15, 2012 at 7:33 PM #

      Ahh! Ozzie! Thank U it means a lot. Regarding the new layout?
      I was feeling a little nostalgic. LOL!!

      • ozzie20 May 15, 2012 at 7:50 PM #

        Finished reading it and I do love it!

        • Open Book May 15, 2012 at 7:57 PM #

          Thanks Oz!!

          Do u have any ?????

    • Comic Relief May 15, 2012 at 7:33 PM #

      Hi Ozzie!!!

      • ozzie20 May 15, 2012 at 7:48 PM #

        Hello CR! 🙂

  10. Open Book May 15, 2012 at 7:40 PM #

    Ozzie & LB-

    I still plan on commenting on the two articles u did last week. I’ve missed such great articles and discussions last week. So I hope to revisit them. Great research btw on both articles.

    • littlebells May 15, 2012 at 8:05 PM #

      No worries. 🙂 glad to have u back!

  11. Open Book May 15, 2012 at 7:45 PM #

    Heres a definition of VOD I wanted to include.

    “Video on demand (VoD) is an interactive TV technology that allows subscribers to view programming in real time or download programs and view them later. A VoD system at the consumer level can consist of a standard TV receiver along with a set-top box. Alternatively, the service can be delivered over the Internet to home computers, portable computers, high-end cellular telephone sets and advanced digital media devices.”

    For more info:

    • Comic Relief May 15, 2012 at 7:50 PM #

      Thanks for the definition. I feel bad because I feel like any arguement for the tradition is insensitivity toward developers and producers who have to make a profit to stay viable.

      Yet I will take one more stab…..

    • littlebells May 15, 2012 at 8:06 PM #

      Would that include xboxes or ps3s???

      • Open Book May 15, 2012 at 8:25 PM #

        What do u mean?

        • littlebells May 15, 2012 at 8:42 PM #

          Idk. Hahaha! I have a ps3 that allows me to live stream netflix. Does vod work with dvrs or tivo? I realize these are dumb dumb questions.

      • Comic Relief May 15, 2012 at 8:57 PM #


        • Comic Relief May 15, 2012 at 8:59 PM #

          “Absolutely” was an answer to your question not that I thought you had a dumb question. LB, there are no dumb questions…..

  12. Comic Relief May 15, 2012 at 7:51 PM #

    There’s nothing wrong with making a profit, yet the ETHAN SMITH and LAUREN A. E. SCHUKER article you referenced seemed to place all the significances on revenue. This doesn’t sound like this is your perspective but I can’t help but scratch my head.

    When I read Tobias Bauckhage’s blog “Make Cinema something, that can not be privatized!” I cant help but wonder (I can’t paraphrase the entire article), whether this goal of creating an alienated viewing experience was always the goal of some technological participants. Here is one of Tobias’s remarks:

    “Movies have been a rather young public space phenomenom, but the privatization of them has really turned the industry upside down several times over the last 50 years. Television, VHS, DVD, Blue-Ray, HD…”

  13. Open Book May 15, 2012 at 7:55 PM #

    Here’s my thinking??? When u have bean counters too afraid to take risk and watering down content or having movies turn into big commercials then artist no longer can be innovative. What VOD and digital technology offers artist is a way to continue to be innovative and move the medium foward.

    • Comic Relief May 15, 2012 at 8:04 PM #

      I’m glad this your opinion. You’re opinion is entirely concerned with the artist’s (or the artist communitie’s) ability to say or even suggest anything of a unique or original statement. Yes you are right, the current funding and validating processes put far more power in the hands of bean counters than they really deserve.

      I understand.

      • Open Book May 15, 2012 at 8:12 PM #


        Given u hear me discuss costumes all the time. Let me put it in a different context. Think of it as Couture vs. Ready to Wear.LOL!!

        • Comic Relief May 15, 2012 at 8:29 PM #

          Ahem, you may have made this discussion personal. I guess I’m free to go where ever I want. I will try to keep this civil.
          I can’t wait until more people see your costume design. This really really isn’t a side issue, so I’ll try to keep this opinion in terms a wide audience can follow.
          Ready to wear, has a deomocratizing element to it. Any chuck or or chelsea can walk into any store and with minimum of effort to taylor a garment or outfit to allow anyone to wear that piece of clothing.

          I’m stuck on, trying to retrieve a document that discusses how former Russian Priminister Gorbechov (probably spelled wrong) had a plan to primavatize Russian cinema even more than this fake democratic state used to enable. It may take me longer than we have. If I’m sucessful I will be able to complete this statement.

          (Extremely frustrated)

          • Comic Relief May 15, 2012 at 8:31 PM #

            Ultimatley I understand you are trying to liberate audiences and producers while limiting the power and censorship of the money men.

          • Open Book May 15, 2012 at 8:41 PM #

            Hahahahaha! There u are? I was wondering where u disapeared too. Hmm! To stay on topic. Let just say not every filmmaker or producer have enough gas in their tank to do indie films. I mean u really need to have your own vision. U have to be an innovator not afraid to do new things etc… If u continue to churn out the same characters in a indie film u might as well do formulaic televison. Meaning u do indie because your interested in creating new formulas. Does that make sense?

            • Comic Relief May 15, 2012 at 8:44 PM #

              It certainly makes sense.

          • littlebells May 15, 2012 at 8:47 PM #

            Yes some us WOULD like to see your designs. 😉

  14. littlebells May 15, 2012 at 7:56 PM #

    I am so late to the party! Let me catch up!!!

    • Comic Relief May 15, 2012 at 7:58 PM #

      Hi LB!!

      • littlebells May 15, 2012 at 8:08 PM #

        Hi CR, OB, ozzie!

        • ozzie20 May 15, 2012 at 8:46 PM #

          LB! *hugs*

    • Open Book May 15, 2012 at 7:58 PM #

      Hi LB!!

      Take your time!!

  15. littlebells May 15, 2012 at 8:20 PM #


    Do u know if what u have viewed can be monitored? I’m speaking as a parent of future teens. Hahaha!!!

    • Open Book May 15, 2012 at 8:23 PM #

      Oh! Yes! Most certainly VOD offers the same parent features for blocking content as Pay-Per-View offers.

      • littlebells May 15, 2012 at 8:50 PM #

        Awesome! I think it is the responsibility of parents to know what their children are reading or watching.

  16. Open Book May 15, 2012 at 8:47 PM #


    Here u go!!

    • ozzie20 May 15, 2012 at 9:05 PM #

      Oh, vodafone do it. I did read on one of the articles that confused me that vodafone has something to do with it. I know where to look later. Thank you!

  17. Comic Relief May 15, 2012 at 8:52 PM #

    Great article OB, and I especially liked hearing your motiviation for doing the piece(that I may not have heard in the article). Yet this was probably my fault.

    Unfortunately I need to go.

    Oh so sincerely, thanks a lot.

    • Open Book May 15, 2012 at 8:56 PM #

      I’m glad u enjoyed the article. U always challenge me to dig deeper. Have a great evening.

  18. littlebells May 15, 2012 at 8:54 PM #

    My phone is dying so I better go. I will be interested to see the $$$ that is generated with VoD and its success with competitors.

    • Open Book May 15, 2012 at 8:58 PM #

      Thanks for coming LB! I’m glad to be back having discussions with everyone. I will check back tomorrow if u have more questions.


  19. littlebells May 15, 2012 at 8:57 PM #

    One more comment: Bro Ami is now on VoD. Do u think it will be successful enough to do well in theaters here in the states. From those I know who have seen it, their response is “meh”. So I’m interested to see what happens.

    • littlebells May 15, 2012 at 9:14 PM #

      What? There is no movie called “Bro Ami”??? Hahahahaha!!! 🙂

  20. Open Book May 15, 2012 at 9:08 PM #

    Hmm! I assume u meant BelAmi? Yes! I think it has great potential to do well in theaters in the US. Like I said before the venue is not as important as the experience. Often with period films like BA, the production design and costumes can only be fully appreciated on the big screen IMO!!!

  21. ozzie20 May 15, 2012 at 9:09 PM #

    I think I really need to get some sleep. I’m going round in confused circles here, lol! I’ll be back when I have a clear head! Night all! 🙂

  22. Open Book May 15, 2012 at 9:10 PM #


    Thanks for coming to the discussion. I will check back tomorrow if u have any more questions. TC!!


  23. parisienne May 16, 2012 at 11:13 PM #

    Hi Everyone,

    I apologize about being “late to the party” lately. However, I have rented movies on VOD before. Most recently, I rented Bel Ami. I must say I can see why so little promotion was done for this film. The editing was poorly done and if you didn’t read the book you would be lost. (I was lost) However, on an upswing, Robert knocks it out of the park with his emotional range. I had the movie for 48 hrs and out of that 48 hrs, I only watched the movie once. I was so confused I decided it best to stay confused.

    Other than that, I love VOD. I have Xfinity and most of the shows I watch are free of charge so that’s great for me.

    Love the new layout!

    • Open Book May 17, 2012 at 3:37 PM #

      Hi Paris,

      Better late then never. Yeah! I’ve heard a lot of people say R’s performance was strong but the direction was odd at times. i think R was very ambitious for taking this on. Despite the poor editing and direction he still gained from the experience and it shows. Thanks for chiming in. I’m glad u like the new site layout!! Miss u!

  24. las artes May 18, 2012 at 4:44 AM #

    Many exhibition chains refuse to carry films that premiere on demand on the same day that they debut in theaters, but there are still enough art house or independently owned and operated theaters that are willing to give films some theatrical presence.

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